Dan Green

Dan Green

Since 2003, Dan Green has been a leading mortgage lender and respected industry authority. His unwavering commitment to first-time home buyers and home buyer education has established him as a trusted voice among his colleagues, his peers, and the media. Dan founded Homebuyer.com to expand the American Dream of Homeownership to all who want it. .

Lawrence Kansas Home - Loan-To-Value (Ltv)

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What is Loan-to-Value?

Loan-to-value (LTV) is the measure of a home’s mortgage balance to its market value, expressed as a percentage.

A Longer Definition: Loan-to-Value

Loan-to-value, often abbreviated as LTV, is a ratio that describes how much is owed on a home compared to what the home is worth. Along with credit scores and debt-to-income, loan-to-value is one of the three major components of a strong mortgage approval.

Loan-to-value is the opposite of how much equity a home buyer has in their home.

For example, when a first-time home buyer uses a no-downpayment mortgage to buy a home, that home buyer has 0% equity in their home. Therefore, the home’s LTV is 100 percent.

When a home buyer makes a three-percent equity down payment, the home’s LTV is 97%.

Loan-to-value generally does not affect mortgage rates and terms, except with standard conventional mortgages. A conventional mortgage with a high LTV is subject to higher interest rates and private mortgage insurance.

Conventional mortgage guidelines also restrict LTV based on specific loan traits:

  • Purchase or refinance transaction
  • 1-unit home or multi-unit home
  • Main residence, second home, or investment property
  • Standard or home affordability mortgage
  • Standard or high-balance mortgage loan limits

FHA, VA, and USDA loans do not change rates based on LTV.

Maximum LTV, Common Mortgage Types

Mortgage Maximum Loan-to-Value
Conventional Mortgage Purchase 97%
Conventional Mortgage, High-Balance 95%
Conventional Mortgage, ARM 95%
Conventional Mortgage, 2-4 Unit 95%
Conventional Mortgage, High-Balance, 2-Unit 85%
Conventional Mortgage, High-Balance, 3-4-Unit 75%
Conventional Mortgage, Second Home 90%
Conventional Mortgage, Investment Property 85%
Conventional Mortgage, Investment Property, 2-4 Unit 75%
Conventional HomeStyle Mortgage, HomeReady 97%
Home Possible 97%
FHA Mortgage 96.5%
VA Mortgage 100%
USDA Mortgage 100%

Loan-to-Value: A Real World Example

First-Time Home Buyer Stories: Loan-to-Value (LTV)

Imagine a first-time home buyer using a 97% loan-to-value conventional mortgage to buy their first home. Because the loan’s LTV exceeds eighty percent, the home buyer is assigned to pay private mortgage insurance, which adds a small but meaningful amount to their monthly mortgage payment.

The mortgage lender tells the buyer PMI is required until the loan-to-value reaches 80 percent, based on conventional mortgage rules, which they estimate will be achieved in fewer than 3 years because of appreciation and regular monthly payments.

Each month, the home buyer checks their mortgage balance against the home’s current market value. Sure enough, after two years and several months, the balance has been reduced, the home’s value has gone up, and the home buyer’s loan-to-value dips below 80 percent.

The home buyer calls their lender that day, and their mortgage insurance is removed.

Common Questions About Loan-to-Value

What is a good loan-to-value ratio?

There are no good or bad loan-to-value ratios. Loan-to-value is only one factor in a mortgage approval. In general, a lower LTV reduces a lender’s loan risk.

Can I get a mortgage with a high loan-to-value ratio?

Yes, you can get a mortgage with a high loan-to-value. Some mortgage programs are 100% LTV as a feature, including USDA mortgages and VA mortgages. Conventional mortgages allow up to 97% LTV. The FHA mortgage program is 96.5% LTV.

Will my loan-to-value go down after I buy a home?

Generally, a home buyer’s LTV decreases after purchase because the buyer makes regular mortgage payments, which reduces the principal balance. LTV also decreases as the home’s value increases.

How do I calculate my loan-to-value?

Calculate loan-to-value by dividing the mortgage loan amount by the property’s value, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

       Loan-to-value (LTV) is the measure of a home's mortgage balance to its market value, expressed as a percentage.

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